Avoid the food rut by tweaking everyday recipes

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Boredom. Yes, the dreaded B-word.


We all seem to hear it enough as it is, especially when our children are out of school for the summer. Boredom is the ultimate test of our character. We all want to be satiated with enjoyment. We want fun and we want new experiences. Let’s face it, boredom can set in at anytime and it can last a long time.

It’s the same in our cooking, as it is with all other things in our lives. Those of you who have my cookbook know that I spend time talking about this topic a lot, even more so in the cooking classes I teach. Boredom in food leads us down a path we don’t want to travel. We start by cooking the same things over and over, which I call being in the cooking rut.  We make the same foods the same way and before you know it we find ourselves in a rut, bored with our food.

There are, of course, a lot of ways to get out of the cooking rut, one of which is to work with foods that are unfamiliar. Go to the store and find something you’ve always wanted to try and give it a shot. I did this with parsnips. One day I was at the store, saw some parsnips and decided to buy them and learn to incorporate them into my cooking.

I will certainly admit that it didn’t go so well at first, but after doing some Internet searches and finding things they paired well with, all is good between me and parsnips. The Internet is a fantastic tool when it comes to food. Use it to find new recipes, new ideas for using foods that you already have on hand and also for tips on serving ideas, canning foods and any other food-related information you might want.

Another way we can get out of the food rut is to make simple changes in the way we do things in the kitchen. This month’s recipe is a perfect example of that.

Recently I was home and looking to make something quick for dinner. Rather than run out and grab a burger I looked through the refrigerator and found lunch meat, cheese and some leftover coleslaw. I could have simply made a ham and turkey sandwich and went on about my business.

The problem wouldn’t come until the next day when I had done the same thing, and again and so on. Instead of making the same old sandwich, I mixed it up. I toasted the bread, melted the cheese and added the toppings.Finally, I made a quick but delicious dressing to top it with.

These simple additions totally changed the taste and texture of the sandwich. Now, instead of having a run-of-the-mill cold sandwich, I had something that more resembled what could be found in a restaurant. It only took a couple minutes to make the dressing in the food processor, and it totally changed the sandwich.

Sometimes it’s not doing something big like altering an entire dish; it’s simply making a small change here or there to totally refresh our outlook on the same old thing. I hope you enjoy this recipe and, as always, eat well, my friends!


Shawn’s Ultimate Sandwich Sauce

1 fresh jalapeno pepper

1 small onion or half a large onion cut into quarters

¼ cup cilantro

2 garlic cloves

1 cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon salt, pepper and sugar

½ teaspoon smoked paprika


In a food processor or blender add jalapeno, onion, cilantro and garlic cloves. Pulse until well combined and finely ground. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients.

 Mix well and allow to sit for 20 minutes before serving.

Also can be used as a dip for fresh vegetables or bread pieces.


Shawn Keeton is author of the cookbook, “Keeton in the Kitchen, A Celebration of Family, Friends and Food.” He resides in Carrollton, Ky.